Tairyu - Stray Dog Blues

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Description: Hayley finds Tairyu trying to make nice with a stray dog in Southtown. She thus ends up helping him bring the dog to someone who will take care of it, before coffee is had. And a couple embarrassments.

Though it's not entirely accurate to say that things are returning to a full normal within Southtown, things are at least significantly calmer. The signs of battle still litter the city, but now some people are at least braving the streets -- to start to rebuild. To start trying to bring some modicum of normalcy back.

It's perhaps most evident in the districts that move a bit further away from the downtown area-- some shops are starting to open up again, and people are actually going outside just for the lone purpose of killing time.

And right now, a couple blocks away from downtown proper, a tall japanese man in a black suit and a red shirt (with two of it's topmost buttons left deliberately open) has set himself crouching down just besides the mouth of an alleyway... pouring dogfood into a small bowl?

"Here, boy, come on, it's okay... yosh, yosh..."

THe words are low, but spoken in a tone that's meant to be of a calming sort -- which is helped a little bit with the man's natural deep, calm baritone, too.

And wouldn't you know it, from the shadows of the alleyway peeks out a scruffy labrador with a greyish-brown coat marked with faint spots of grime. Visibly tentative and hesitant, though peering at both the bowl of food and the man curiously.


Hayley has tried to stay out of Southtown during the worst of this, but slowly, gradually, she's made her way back here. Perhaps it's the draw of all that happens here. Maybe it's just hard to stay gone. Maybe, just maybe, she feels a sense of obligation to help if she can.

In any case, she's here now. Today the Australian has traded her normal wardrobe for workout pants and a t-shirt, but her ever present headband and tooth necklace is there still. She's walking down the street when the sound of chatter from near the alleyway gets her attention. A closer look, and the man in the suit responsible keeps it.

Hayley pauses abruptly in her walk, not wanting to scare off the dog. She glances at it, then the man in the suit. Her hand slips up, brushing her hair back.

The man in the suit doesn't seem to take notice of Hayley when she stops there -- or at the very least, he doesn't pay her any mind there. His focus is entirely on that poor dog over there.

A hand pushes the bowl over outwards, closer to the mouth of the alley, before he shuffles himself backwards, putting some more distance to himself and the bowl like that. Even all the while his satin-like tones coo out, "It's okay, boy.. eat up, yeah? Come on..."

Eventually, the dog braves it's way to stepping up. Slowly. Step by step, tail hung low. All the way until he reaches the bowl filled up with food. Giving it a curious sniff.

And after all of two seconds of deliberation, the dog sinks his muzzle right in, and starts chomping away. Tail giving an idle swish from side to side.

The man responsible for bringing the food, meanwhile, directs a warm smile to the canine. "Good, isn't it?"

Hayley watches the dog carefully, keeping an eye on the two of them. When the dog settles, she hunkers down, hands on her knees, which are nearly at chin level. This posture, somehow, does not seem to bother her in the least.

"Hey," she says, quietly. "Do you do this often?"

The man's attention is caught now, though even the turn of his head that guides his eye to peeking towards Hayley is made slowly, so as to not accidentally spook the dog with sudden movement.

"Sometimes," he murmurs quietly, in answer, tone calm and unintruding. "Someone I know asked me to keep an eye out for dogs like these if I ever ran into any..."

Whatever other explanation he might have had on offer is delayed when the dog, finished with his food, lifts his snout up from the bowl with a might chop-licking. The man's eyes find the lab once more, too, and he extends his hand slightly towards it, palm up and fingers subtly curved. "It's okay, it's okay..."

After a moment of hesitation, the dog pads it's way over towards the man, and that outstretched hand, sniffing at fingers.

"See, it's okay, we're okay. You're okay." Beyond those words said, he doesn't make any other motion for now, just watching the dog and how it reacts from there. And giving a brief peek to Hayley again, too, while he's at it.

"That sounds like good advice, if you ask me," Hayley says with a smile, reaching up briefly to adjust her headband that's holding back her long, shaggy hair.

"Someone's a good boy," she says to the dog, not moving too quickly at any time, or speaking too loudly. She stays hunkered as she is without even a flinch or a tremor, balancing her weight on her ankles. Her hands go back to resting on her knees.

"It was really more of a request," the man points out-- just before the dog flicks his tongue over one of his outstretched fingers, and then another, and over his palm.

"Yeah, very good boy," he murmurs in an echo of Hayley's words before he slowly slides his hand upwards, not so much to take it away from that tongue's reach as to guide his fingers to brushing through matted fur, giving the good dog the scritching he surely needs. "There, that's a good dog... You were probably abandoned, huh?"

The dog actually lets out a low whining sound, as if in response.

"Poor boy."

A bit more scritching behind a floppy ear, before the hand is drawn away. The dog looks... disappointed. "Wanna go say hi to auntie over there?" He suggests to it then, with a subtle gesture made towards Hayley. The dog just gives her a vaguely suspicious look, a bit hesitant. She's not the one who gave him food just now, afterall.

Hayley reaches into her bag, pulling out a small bit of -- jerky? Smoked meat? She does it carefully, gingerly even, to avoid moving too much at once and spooking the dog.

And then, she slowly extends her hand, patiently.

"Come here, boy, it's okay. I have something tasty for you."

Food? Food!

Having already been offered food by one human, the lab's ears perk up now (or as much as ears as floppy as those can perk up anyway), and he comes gingerly padding up to Hayley. Sniffing at the jerky, first, before snatching it eagerly away from her hand. Chomp! Chomp!

The dog barely has even finished swallowing before he presses his furry head up against the hand that had offered the jerky, too, nuzzling and rubbing against it. Pets?

"Tairyu Katashi," the man in the suit murmurs out then, with a tipping of his head. "Yoroshiku. Somehow I get the feeling you are good with animals, hm?"

Hayley seems pleased that the dog is happy. Her hand moves, still covered with slobber, and rubs the pup's head gently, scritching behind his ears. She keeps doing so even as she's talking.

"Oh, right," Hayley says, sticking out her tongue for a second and chuckling awkwardly. "I'm Hayley. Hayley Bretherton. Nice to meet ya." At the question, she pauses for a moment.

"I guess so. I spent a good while out in wilderness back home, and then I was training not too long ago...I never really had dogs much, though. Not because I don't like them, of course!"

Of course the dog tries to give slobbery licks of affection to Hayley's hand, too, while she's making for the scritches. This seems to be a very satisfied dog, indeed.

Tairyu, meanwhile, straightens himself up to standing upright, with a quick sweep of his hands made over his thighs... not that his pants ever actually touched the ground.

"Well, you might be able to help me then, since the pup there apparently likes you," he muses while he collects the bowl and the emptied can. "I didn't have the sense to bring a collar and leash with me, so you wanna see if you can persuad him to come along to my friend's place?"

"Huh? Me?" Hayley seems genuinely surprised at the suggestion. "I--...I'll do my best, at least!" Her voice rises a bit, but not so much as to scare the dog as she keeps rubbing his head.

"You wanna come with me?" she asks, "We're gonna take you someplace dry and warm--where's he going, anyway? Somewhere nice, I hope..."

Hayley stands up, lifting herself to her feet without effort.

"That's the spirit. You seemed like the decent sort." Tairyu offers an encouraging smile to Hayley with that, and he turns to face down the street.

THe dog lets out a low 'ruff!' at Hayley's words, wether or not he really fully understands it. He does seem to eventually realize she wants him to follow, and gives a wag of a tail while rubbing up against the side of her leg. Until she starts walking eventually, anyway.

"A guy in my turf runs this specialized cafe," Tairyu explains to Hayley, in the meantime, over a broad shoulder. "A dog cafe, specifically. He insists on all the dogs he keeps there being rescues, though. It's one way to make things better for the strays, I guess."

(Turf,) Hayley thinks, (Well, hopefully it's not that kind of turf. Is it that kind of turf?) She keeps these thoguhts to herself as they walk, following along and reaching down to pet the dog every now and then and encourage him to keep along.

"A dog cafe?" Hayley says, "that's...that's a good idea. They stay there and people come and visit them if they can't have a dog of their own? ...that's a good idea. Have you worked with him a lot before?"

The dog is surprisingly unhesitant in following alongside Hayley. All tail-swishing and leg-rubbing. It helps that he gets to have pets from the nice girl every now and then, too.

"Aaah... In a manner of speaking, sure..." Murmurs Tairyu in answer to the question while he guides a finger to giving a scratch along his cheek. "It's not like I am involved in running the place or anything. I just... look after folks in the neighbourhood. Small things like these."

"Right," Hayley says. (Yes. That definitely sounds like that kind of turf, but...he seems nice, at least. Maybe it's not so bad?) The Australian regularly checks on the dog, but otherwise doesn't show any hesitation, at least, not openly.

"That's good, I think. People need someone to look after them. Especially with..." Hayley gestures. "All that's been happening."

Tairyu seems completely oblivious of whatever suspicions Hayley is holding. But then again, he probably seems either oblivious or entirely uncaring about the kind of image he puts out, too. The kind of image held by the unsavory of the city. Even if this particular brand of unsavory happens to also be trying to look after a dog at the time.

"....Yeah." The agreement comes in a heavy sigh. "There's been too much hurt already. I'm glad to see we're starting to come out to the other side of it now."

It doesn't take terribly long with the pace they're walking at to reach their destination, thankfully. Tairyu diverts the trio (dog included!) around a couple corners, dipping into some tighter and narrower streets before coming up to the storefront of a cafe -- characterized by chibi-fied images of three dogs painted over the windows.

"Ah--" He pauses upon reaching the door, with his hand already on the handle, to look back to Haley and the dog. "Wait here with him, would you?"

The dog, meanwhile, has taken to sniffing at Hayley's thighs and the pockets there. More food? Treats?

"Yeah. Hopefully. Sometimes it's darkest before the dawn, or something like that." Hayley manages a smile as she reaches up and adjusts her headband again. "I'm just hoping the worst of it is over, for everyone's sake."

She reaches down, patting the dog's head, then starts digging in her pockets. "Right...I think I have some more in here.." She pulls out a bag of jerky again, mostly empty, but unrolls it to fish out what she has.

Unsurprisingly, the dog starts tapping about on his feet in front of Hayley once that bag comes out. Eyes peering up at her with the most puppy-dog look he can muster up, tail wagging rapidly and slobbery tongue licking at his chops in anticipation.

"Ino-san, I got another one-- just outside here, come on," Tairyu's voice can be heard through the door in a moment.

...And almost immediately after, an older japanese man with short-cut, greying hair bursts out from the door, dressed up in a beige shirt and a green apron that has the same cartoon image of three dogs printed on it as the storefront.

"Oh, well look at you! Aren't you a beautiful boy! Oh, oh, but we're going to have to bathe you a lot, aren't we!" The man coos out, all excited... with Tairyu coming up right behind him, reaching up a hand to set on the man's shoulder.

"Ino-san... I keep telling you, you're going to scare the dogs like that..."

The excitement with which the man leaves the cafe almost startles Hayley, but she makes an effort to keep the dog calm with a thorough petting between giving him pieces of jerky. Even it takes some effort, she seems resolute in trying to keep him from taking off after the trip.

"Oh, g'day," Hayley says, "I'm Hayley Bretherton. -- it's fine. I'm glad he's so excited about his new guest...I'm sure the dog is, too!"

The dog backpedals a bit from the sudden new assault of sensory input, but thankfully, Hayley's attention manages to keep him soothed enough to not bolt away. Though he does also seem to make a point of pressing right up closer against the woman's leg. With all of his weight.

"Oh? Hm!" 'Ino-San' only seems to actually properly realie Hayley's there when she speaks up, but the older man is still all smiles. "Oh, it's pleasure to meet you, Bretherton-san~! I am Ino Kyosuke, very good day indeed!" The introductions made with an all-too-eager formal bow before he straightens up, and... "Hm? Hmmm? Hmmmm!" He gives a long, good look at Hayley herself, and then the dog, and HAyley again, and...

"I didn't realize Tairyu-san was using the little chore I asked of him as a date venue!" He proclaims with a hearty laugh. "That sly lizard!"

Tairyu, still standing just behind him, just... kind of sighs. "...Ino-san, please don't speak some ridicilous gossip about me like I'm not here..."

Hayley handles the pressing against her leg surprisingly well, all things considered. There's a moment where she has to adjust her footing ever so slightly, but it's just that: ever so slight.

"Oh!" Hayley starts to redden. "I just kind of...happened upon him and the dog..." She bites her lip, looking to the side. She glances briefly at Tairyu, then back away before putting on a smile for "Ino-San."

"But I'm glad I did, I think it made sure our friend here got here with no trouble. Do you have a lot of dogs, uh, Ino-San?" Almost definitely a strategy subject change.

Old Man Ino is still all-smiles-- and much like old people often seem to, he seems to thrive some on the little bit of embarrassment he has inadvertantly caused in Hayley, too.

"Oh, so he *didn't* ask you out? Oh, well!" He gives a vague wave with that. "Don't hold it against him too much. He can be kind of dense."

"I am literally still standing right here."

Old Man Ino seems to ignore Tairyu.

But at least he does have the decency on following up on the topic change from Hayley, and he seems a bit... rueful. "Oh, no, Labrador-San over there will make the third one. That is, after we've gotten him cleaned up and accustomed to being with people. He seems like an utter sweetheart, though, so I have faith that he will do well. Oh, but would you like some coffee and cake? As thanks for bringing him here."

Tairyu squints. "...Am I just not part of this conversation anymore?"

"Oh, don't worry," Hayley chuckles--maybe a bit awkwardly. "I won't," Hayley says, tilting her head toward Tairyu, then back to Ino-San. "So three so far...that's still good! I think too many would make them hard to take care of." On the offer of coffee and cake, Hayley bites her lip.

"I guess it wouldn't hurt, though I may need to use your sink first so that it's not dog slobber flavored..."

"Oh, good, good!" Ino-san claps his hands together lightly, and steps back. "I'll have my nephew take care of the good boy there and I'll go whip that up for you~."

Tairyu sighs quietly and sticks one hand into his pocket while he turns to the door, too, all the while a younger man - wearing an apron similiar to Ino-san's - comes out to persuade the dog to come along with some treats. "I better stay too. Ino-san might overwhelm you a bit if you don't have company keeping him away."

"Right," Hayley says, "um. Sorry you got kind of walked over there. Does that happen often?" The Australian asks, rising up and dusting herself off. "I mean you seem to know them well, but you also seem kind of important--what with the suit and all."

Hayley moves toward the store, following the lead of Ino-san almost as soon as his nephew appears to lead the dog back to his bath.

"The suit?" Tairyu repeats with a faintly bemused tone, and gives a light tug at one side of his jacket. "I just like these clothes, that's all. Clothes don't make the man, don't you know? But Ino-san... well, he's a ninteresting person, let's put it that way..."

While the still-hesitant labrador is guided to the back of the building by Ino-san's nephew, Ino-san himself moves to the main store section itself, and behind a counter... and the instant Hayley and Tairyu step in, a cacophone of claws tapping over hardwood floor ring out.

Cue an enormous brown-coated great dane barreling up towards Tairyu, followed right behind by a white-coated pitbull -- both go circling around Tairyu excitedly before the Dane suddenly JUMPS up and leans into Tairyu. "Ack! No, we talked about this!" Tairyu yelps out in panic, with hands coming up to brace against the great weight of the beast while it proceeds to slobber all over the man's face. "Agh, what did you eat?! Your breath stinks!"

The pitbull, meanwhile, notices Hayley, and comes padding up to her, sniffing at her feet and shins while circling a perimeter around her, tail swishing rapidly back and forth while considering this New Person.

"Well, that's as good a reason as any...they do seem nice, though." She puts a hand on her hip, trying to avoid spending too much time staring at Tariyu's attire.

But then, there's a pitbull and a great dane. "Oh no!" she says as the large of the two dogs practically bowls over Tairyu.

"Oh, hi there," she says, greeting the second of the two dogs. She bends down again, reaching gingerly to rub the pitbull's head. "Oh, you're another good boy, aren't you?"

"They're all good dogs!" Declares Ino-san from behind the counter... even while Tairyu is still trying to get the overly-affectionate Great Dane to drop back down onto all four legs, likely leaving the man's face positively dripping by the time he does.

The pitbull leans happily into the australian's rubbing hand, squinting it's eyes closed and giving a big old tongue-hanging pibble smile while sitting down right besides the woman, tail thumping audibly against the floor.

"The two of them--ugh--have been here for a longer while so they've grown to be pretty good with people," Tairyu mutters while he takes the liberty to go round around the counter to grab a wet towel to wipe his face with. "Though Mutson over there's a bit *too* eager with people he knows..."

Thus the Great Dane - Mutson, apparently - comes clambering up to Hayley right alongside the pitbull. But thankfully, he doesn't try to leap up on her, too. THough he does seem distinctly jealous about not getting pets too!

Hayley adapts to the introduction of a second canine with ease, reaching up to pet him with her free hand. "Oh, so he's been working on building up the dog cafe idea for a while. I'm glad you're helping out, then. I mean..." Hayley scratches Mutson under the chin. "They seem happy here, and that's what really matters."

"So...if you don't my asking," Hayley says over petting dogs. "What do you do besides bring in stray dogs?"

Mutson turns out to take to Hayley pretty quickly, too, since the instant she makes for the chin-scritches, the mighty canine beast takes advantage of it to assault her wrist with slobbery dog-kisses from a big tongue. All is as it should be, clearly.

"Hrmh?" Tairyu sounds out at her question, voice muffled for a moment by the towel pressed to his head, before it gets pulled down. He stares at the australian, considering his own answer for a few seconds...

"I... work with a business in town. It's not really importnat right now."

"Okay," Hayley says, "must be nice that they're so open to your charitable work." She smiles, disregarding the slobber to continue petting the bigger of the two dogs. She has managed to take the other down with her other hand, and is not afflicting him with tummy rubs, being a true villain.

"A man should look after his neighbourhood, don't you think?" Tairyu asks while he moves on to seat himself down lazily at one of the tables. Watching Hayley provide attention and love to the two dogs, with the pibble already happily rolled onto his back with a tongue hanging goofily out while being assaulted by bellyrubs.

"Tell you the truth, though, I... did end up in a couple fights in this one local league, too... I guess those were put on tv, too, but they didn't tell me about that part until after the fact..." He doesn't seem entirely happy about that, no he doesn't.

Ino-san comes along then, to set two cups of coffee on the table Tairyu claimed -- and a plate with a small slice of chocolate cake on it to the seat opposite to him.

"That's fair," Hayley says, "if more people took care of the places they lived, maybe we wouldn't have all the problems we do sometimes..." She keeps petting the dogs contently, even if the Great Dane threatens to climb over her to get a better angle.

"Oh yeah? You're a fighter?" she asks, tilting her head. "Me too...though I've been kind of laying low lately..."

"Is that right?" Murmurs Tairyu while he picks up the cup of coffee in front of him. "Well. If they keep me on the league, maybe I'll end up fighting you sometime..."

A small sip is taken from the cup, before he peeks over to the australian. "Don't let the dogs keep you until your coffee goes cold. You should treat yourself sometime, too."

"Yep!" Hayley says, standing up despite the protests of the dogs. She moves to wash her hands before anything else, however, because she's gotten quite slobbery in the exchange.

"Oh...are you in the Neo League?" she asks. "--where's the sink?"

"You can use the sink back here!" Ino-san calls out from behind the counter. "Got some hand soap here too!"

"As he says," Tairyu murmurs in echo, in between two sips of coffee. To answer her question, however, he rolls one broad shoulder around slowly and offers, "Yeah... I kinda... ended up there. Due to... circumstances."

Hayley makes her way back toward Ino-san, being careful not to wipe too much dog drool onto her pants, or shirt, or hair, or... anything really. There's a lot of slobber.

"Yeah? Are you not really into fighting leagues? I mean, not that there's anything wrong with that..."

"It's less that and more that I don't care a lot for having my face plastered on tv screens or the internet," Tairyu mutters with a wrinkle of his nose, staring down at the coffee in his hands for a moment.

"The value of a fight shouldn't be determined by how many other people see it, you know?"

Hayley washes her hands steadily from the other room, but continues the conversation nonetheless.

"That's...I can understand that. Like, maybe one day I'd want the attention to further my goals, but...right now I just want to get better. I don't need people to see me for that. I still have such a long way to go that I almost hate being too out there, like with King of Fighters..."

"You prefer the purity of the fight itself then too, don't you," Tairyu murmurs, with a thoughtful look sent towards the source of Hayley's voice. "A fight is typically something you do for the sake of something you believe in. Or someone important to you. But sometimes it's just about the fight itself, between two people. A meeting of souls that leads to the connectio of flesh and bone."

Hayley makes her way back to the table with a steady stride, rubbing her hands together. "--yeah. I mean." She trails off for a moment. "I think that's right, even if some people might think that's weird, I mean, fighting is something I've done since I was really little. It's just so...natural, it's like a way of connecting with people. It goes past culture and all that, if you ask me."

"Yeah... Even when words end, that clash is still there," Tairyu murmurs, setting the coffee cup down for a moment. "The universal language. What could connect two people more than that?"

The coffeshop owner promptly calls out from the back, "I can think of a few things!"

"...Ino-san, please..."

Hayley almost spits her coffee at the suggestion, and does at least sputter, her face reddening at the suggestion. Looking away, she wipes her mouth with a napkin.

"Well--yeah, plus--" she trails off. "I've got to meet a lot of interesting people with it. Bad people, too, but lots of good ones."

"... Try not to choke on the coffee just because of Ino-san," Tairyu murmurs, trying very, very hard not to look amused about it.

"...Mmmm. It does get you to understand the other person better, too. Well, most people anyway. And then there's people you don't necessarily want to know..."

"I've met my share of those, too, unfortunately," Hayley says, "but I'm trying to move past it. I think I've gotten better from it, in the long run, but it's still ... hard."

The Australian takes a deep breath. "It even took me a good while to get up the nerve to come to Southtown, with all that's been going on..." She trails off for a moment, gazing into her coffee. "But now I'm rambling to a strange. You probably think I'm a little off, huh?"

"Nothing worth doing in this world is easy," Tairyu points out with a firm nod of his head. "Always build on it."

At her following words, he shakes his head and waves his hand lightly at her. "Not at all. You're definitely among the less strange people I see in this town on a daily basis. It's... refreshing to see someone more like me, honestly."

"I guess you're right..." Hayley says, "and really? You must meet some interesting characters then..." Hayley teases. "How many of them are like Ino-san?" she adds, conspiratorially.

But there is also cake to be had. Hayley takes a bit, testingly, almost overly politely. Perhaps she's been resisting the cake for some time.

"Ino-san is really not at all in the weirder end of the spectrum either," Tairyu answers quickly with a shake of his head. "Believe me when I say that this city can get... very odd."

He watches her test the cake with an upward arch of his dark brow, and then chuckles quietly. "It's okay to eat it, you know. It was brought for you, you know?"

"Well, that's good! ... and to be honest, I like Ino-san. He's a good kind of interesting." Hayley takes a bigger bite of cake. "I know," she says, being careful not to talk with her mouthful. "I just don't want to seem like a pig with someone I just met..."

"But you said we're a lot alike. How did you get into fighting?"

"Oh, Ino-san is a good person," Tairyu assures. "He can be just... a little overbearing at times. As you probably noticed."

Another dismissive wave at her. "It's fine, it's fine. THere's nothing wrong with enjoying good food."

But then there's that more pertinent question. The one that makes him purse his lips a bit. "... It's kind of something my adoptive father trained me in too, so it's been... part of my life for a very long time as well," he confesses after a moment. "And... I look after my neighbourhood." He manages to not say 'turf' this time around. "For folks like me, it's usually all about what you can do, and for who's sake. Right?"

"Still," Hayley says, taking another bite of cake. She tries to restrain herself, but only just so.

"Ahh. So a family style, then? That's interesting...it's almost like an heirloom, in a way." Hayley thinks about this quietly for a long moment, shuffling her cake around her plate with her fork. "It's nice though, to have that connection."

She picks up again after a moment. "R-right. Being strong is important, so you can do what you can for other people. That's what you mean?"

"That isn't really entirely about just 'being strong'," Tairyu points out before tipping the coffee cup up to drain the rest of it's contents, finally. "Mmmh. Though you can be 'strong' in different ways too, I suppose. Everyone should always be able to do *something*, for people around them regardless. Just for some of us..." He peers down into the empty coffee cup, solemnly. "...THe only thing that can be done is fighting."

"Well, no...it takes a lot of different things, I suppose. Patience, compassion...a willingness to chase down stray dogs..." Hayley smiles slyly as she continues to poke at her cake.

"So I think you can do more than just fight, even if sometimes you do have to fight."

"...It's not like I actively chase them down," Tairyu protests with a quiet grunt and a glance sent off to the side. "I just keep an eye out in case I happen to run into some. That's all."

The empty cup is set down then, and Tairyu's bright-green eyes settle fully on Hayley. "I try to do what I can, anyway. That's all anyone can be asked to do though, right? Even if someone..." He throws a brief, but meaningful glance towards the counter. "Might think I might have 'ulterior motives'."

"I didn't think you had ulterior motives, for what it's worth." She gives Tairyu a shy smile. "I mean, maybe I'm not the best judge of character, but it seemed pretty straightforward to me."

As Tairyu's attention focuses on her, Hayley manages a smile. "... it's taken me a while to realize that 'all you can do' is enough. At least, I think I'm getting there. I always feel like I could be doing more. Do you ever feel that way?"

"Everyone has a little bit in the way of ulterior motives in the back of their mind with all things, I'm sure," Tairyu muses on this, with his finger idly tapping on the tabletop. "The difference is in wether or not people act on it."

At her question, he closes his eyes for a few seconds, before opening them again in time with a heavy sigh. "I do, sometimes," he confesses. "But, I can't really let myself linger on that for too long."

"It's important to ask yourself that question every time you have even the slightest of doubts on what you should do. 'What can you do? And for who's sake?'. Neither question is more important than the other. They should be considered in equal measures. Even against each other, if need be."

"Maybe," Hayley says, "...I try not to get too cynical..." She finishes the cake, then takes another long sip of her coffee before speaking further.

"I guess that's true. It's just..." Hayley bites her lip. "It's a hard balance. I've been helped by some really nice people, but I've got burned--badly--trying to help the wrong people." Hayley takes a deep breath as she stares into her coffee.

"But I guess we have to keep trying, you know? --but I bet I'm keeping you from something important, right? Sort of heavy stuff for someone I just met..."

"The worst thing that could happen is us stopping trying," Tairyu says with a firm nod of his head, watching Hayley now even while she's staring solemnly at her own coffee.

"Oh, please," he chuckles out with a faintly-amused smile, then. "If I had something urgent to take care of, I would have already left the pretty girl behind the moment they took the dog in."

"Right," Hayley says, her voice rising with a bit more confidence now. "That's what I keep telling myself, too." She takes another sip of her coffee, then sets it aside, the cup empty.

"Oh," Hayley reddens a bit and looks away. "Well, I'm glad you think so, at least." She reaches up, adjusting her headband a bit. "So uh," she quickly interjects. "What style do you use, anyway?"

Tairyu cocks one brow upwards slightly when Hayley reddens up in front of him so, and says that. "Do you not think so?" He asks, head cocking briefly to one side.

"Mmmm..." At her following question, he gives a light scratch to one side of his neck, lips pursing thoughtfully. "I don't know if it really rightfully has a 'name', since it's not really a widely-practiced or anything. Old Man Aizawa called it 'Soaring Dragon', though."

IT's only right after that when he realizes dropping Aizawa's name might have given her a venue to figure out he's Yakuza. Oh well.

If Hayley appreciates the Aizawa name, she does not let on. Instead, she rolls with it, undeterred. "Oh, interesting!" The Australian brightens. "So it's a family style from Japan...so maybe something based on karate, or jujutsu...I suppose it could be judo-based or centered in aikido too though..." Where a moment ago she was sheepish, even nervous, this seems to be her element.

"How would you describe it? Is it primarily striking, or throwing, or...?"

"Mmm... Primarily striking, though I've come to incorporate some throws into it," Tairyu offers after a brief few seconds of consideration. "If I had to absolutely describe it, I'd say it's basis is in a mix of karate and western boxing. Quick, smooth-flowing strikes that gather force from the momentum of the rest of the body."

He leans in forward, then, arms folding over the table's surface while he meets Haley's eyes straight on. "So... I told you about mine, want to tell me about yours, Bretherton-san?" He asks of her, with a subtle lidding of his eyes.

"Oh, um," Hayley says, "Well, to be honest, Jujiza-ryu is something that's still in development. I mean, I knew came up with quite a bit just off what I grew up with...which was a little of everything I learned when traveling with my dad..."

Hayley gets quite for a moment on that one, as if trying to figure out where to go next. "...but lately I went to stay with my mom and was traveling the country there...so I spent several months focusing on Bajiquan, with a little Piguaquan?"

"So... you're developing something of your own, in other words," Tairyu concludes, and after a few seconds, gives a firm nod of his head. "That's good. That's a good way to make your mark."

That's when he lifts himself up to standing from his chair, head tipping to one side first and then the other to stretch out his neck. "I'm going to get going, though, I think... It was nice to meet you, Bretherton-san."

Halfway through his turn away from the table, he directs his eyes back to the woman again, and offers a small, warm smile for her. "We should do this again sometime."

(Oh no,) Hayley thinks, (I nerded too much out and chased him off. Not again!)

"Y-yes!" Hayley says. "That's right. It's something my dad started, but I'm hoping to finish it. --it was nice to meet you, too!" When Tairyu suggests they do again sometime, she reaches back, rubbing the back of her head. Her face is just a little flushed again.

"Right! We totally should!"

Tairyu stays standing there for a moment longer, just watching Hayley. And then...

"You're even cuter when you blush."

His smile still remains sincerely warm even when he says that, and as he passes around the table, he gives a brief squeeze to her shoulder. "Drinks are on me next time."

A thousand thoughts seem to be running through the Australian's mind as Tairyu pays her a compliment. She looks down, twirling her shaggy, bluish hair around her finger. She can't manage to make eye contact at the moment. Fighting, it would seem, is one thing. This is something else entirely.

"R-right," Hayley manages, a little quietly. "I guess I'll see you then..."

Log created on 21:09:11 07/18/2020 by Tairyu, and last modified on 01:28:37 07/23/2020.